Body-based senses enhance knowledge of directions in large-scale environments

D. Waller, J. Loomis, Daniel Haun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has shown that inertial cues resulting from passive transport through a large environment do not necessarily facilitate acquiring knowledge about its layout. Here we examine whether the additional body-based cues that result from active movement facilitate the acquisition of spatial knowledge. Three groups of participants learned locations along an 840-m route. One group walked the route during learning, allowing access to body-based cues (i.e., vestibular, proprioceptive, and efferent information). Another group learned by sitting in the laboratory, watching videos made from the first group. A third group watched a specially made video that minimized potentially confusing head-on-trunk rotations of the viewpoint. All groups were tested on their knowledge of directions in the environment as well as on its configural properties. Having access to body-based information reduced pointing error by a small but significant amount. Regardless of the sensory information available during learning, participants exhibited strikingly common biases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-163
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin & Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004


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